Sportsmen Willingly Assume the Burden of Conservation
On March 4, 1939, the Idaho Legislature passed enabling legislation authorizing the Idaho Fish and Game Department to participate in a program that helped fund wildlife restoration. This funding mechanism has helped to create the wildlife resource we have today.
The program was created on September 2, 1937, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, otherwise known as the Pittman-Robertson law. The law imposed an excise tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition for distribution to the states for wildlife restoration.
The first allocation of P-R funds for Idaho was $17,900. The money was used to continue a project to trap live beaver and transplant them. The live trapping was conducted primarily in north Idaho in agricultural areas where the animal’s dam-building activities were causing damage. They were moved to mountain streams where they aided soil and wildlife conservation.
Hunters were, and still are strong backers of the law which currently authorizes an 11 percent federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition and archery equipment and a 10 percent tax on handguns.
In 1952, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (Dingell-Johnson Act) went into effect imposing an excise tax on recreational fishing equipment. These two pieces of legislation have generated over $275 million for fish and wildlife management and conservation in Idaho and $12 billion for fish and wildlife nationwide since the first was authorized 76 years ago.
The P-R and D-J Acts are among the first and most successful “user-pay/user-benefit” programs. The acts also establish hunters and anglers as conservationists who are responsible for the diverse fish and wildlife populations we all enjoy in Idaho today.
In 2013, Idaho Fish and Game received $9.9 million in P-R funding and $6.3 million in D-J funding.